Observing the world of cannabis
More Cannabis in Afghanistan
Afghanistan: While experts expect opium production in Afghanistan to decline this year, they forecast an increase of cannabis production by 5 percent, based on a survey conducted in 469 Afghan villages.
Experts forecast an increase in Afghan cannabis production for this year.
USA: New Northern California US attorney hints the era of DEA raids may be coming to an end. During his first press briefing, incoming US Attorney for Northern California Joseph Russoniello suggested that raiding and prosecuting medical marijuana providers is a waste of resources. That's a bit of a surprise, given Russoniello's history as a hard-line Republican prosecutor, but could augur a new day in Northern California. Although personally opposed to medical marijuana and openly skeptical that many who claim to be using the herb medicinally are not really ill, Russoniello suggested that trying to prosecute dispensaries out of existence was akin to trying to plough the sea. "The overwhelming majority of people in my view who are so-called patients are not," he said, but he added that cracking down on dispensaries was futile. "We could spend a lifetime closing dispensaries and doing other kinds of drugs, enforcement actions, bringing cases and prosecuting people, shoveling sand against the tide. It would be terribly unproductive and probably not an efficient use of precious federal resources," said Russoniello. Whether Russoniello's words will translate into policy changes in his office remains to be seen, but they could be a harbinger of things to come. Both Democratic presidential contenders have said they would halt the DEA raids on dispensaries in California, so his office could have few medical marijuana cases to prosecute in any case.
US: Pot vending machines in Los Angeles. The city that popularized the fast food drive-thru has a new innovation: 24-hour medical marijuana vending machines. Patients suffering from chronic pain, loss of appetite and other ailments that marijuana is said to alleviate can get their pot with a dose of convenience at the Herbal Nutrition Center, where a large machine will dole out the drug around the clock. "Convenient access, lower prices, safety, anonymity," inventor and owner Vincent Mehdizadeh said, extolling the benefits of the machine. At least three dispensaries in the city, including two belonging to Mehdizadeh, have installed vending machines to distribute the drug to people who carry cards authorizing marijuana use. Mehdizadeh said he spent seven months to develop and patent the black, armored box, which he calls the "PVM," or prescription vending machine. Kris Hermes, a spokesman for advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the machine might benefit those who already know how much and what strain of marijuana they're looking for. But he said others will want to see and smell the drug before they buy it. A man who said he has been authorized to use medical marijuana as part of his anger management therapy said the vending machine's security measures would at least protect against illicit use of the drug.
Science: The results of a recent study from New Zealand reporting a nearly six-fold increased risk of lung cancer for individuals who smoke cannabis are based on only 14 cases, and have never been replicated in large-scale population case-control studies, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. The widely reported study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, assessed the relative risk of lung cancer associated with marijuana smoking in 79 cases and 324 controls. Of the 79 cases in the study, 70 reported smoking tobacco and 21 smoked cannabis. Investigators reported that light-to-moderate lifetime cannabis use "was not associated with a significantly increased risk [of lung cancer]." By contrast, researchers reported that the 14 subjects in the study with the highest exposure to cannabis (more than one joint per day for 10 years) had a 5.7 times higher relative risk of lung cancer compared to controls. Overall, subjects who reported having ever smoked tobacco experienced a nearly seven-fold increase in lung cancer risk. By contrast, subjects who reported having ever used cannabis did not experience a statistically significant increased risk of lung cancer compared to non-using controls. Previous large-scale population case control studies have also failed to identify a significant cancer risk associated with cannabis consumption. Most recently, a UCLA study of more than 2,200 subjects (1,212 cases and 1,040 controls) reported that marijuana smoking was not positively associated with cancers of the lung or upper aerodigestive tract - even among individuals who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints during their lifetime.
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